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March 09, 2011


hmm, paprika and sumac would not be out of place...

I wouldn't be a very good culinary detective, but it sure sounds like fun!

I don't usually read food blogs, but the title of this post caught my eye. Must taste the lentil soup in Algiers immediately; this has made me crave it!

Just from reading the recipe I can tell I love this soup!

Try preserved lemon instead of lemon juice.

The sourness is almost certainly sumac. My mom played this game with her favorite lentil soup (from a Persian restaurant in St. Louis) and when she ultimately couldn't crack it, begged the owner for the secret. In that case, the secret was sumac and butter. Butter doesn't immediately come to mind in middle eastern food (and wouldn't be vegan) but it adds a nice rich roundness to the recipe.

Thank you for taking up the challenge...and I am glad you liked their soup. I cannot wait to try it. Cafe Algiers did tell me the soup contained carrot but would not divulge the interesting ingredients--sumac is an excellent thought. I have used zatar, a spice mix with a sumac base but did not think to try it here.

When I attempted it I used the NYTimes recipe as a base http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/09/dining/091arex.html
but although also excellent it was different.

I love the idea of a series that cracks the code....

That's such a cool challenge!!! I wish I was better at detecting ingredients so I could recreate dishes at home. Sometimes I try, and it turns out good, but it doesn't usually turn out like the restaurant version!

I love this idea! Please visit Caffe Graziani in Salem and figure out how they make - well, everything, really - but especially their tomato cream sauce. It's amazing!

renekah: Perhaps Caffe Graziani will be my next stop!

Liz: Yeah, my previous attempts at duplicating restaurant dishes haven't turned out exactly the same, either, but I don't mind as long as they're edible!

atlantic: Carrot, huh? I didn't taste that, but maybe that would account for the faint sweetness I detected. I agree that sumac is an excellent call by previous commenters. Be sure to report back when you make it.

cycler: I'm convinced you're right about the sumac.

Lydia: Preserved lemon. Good thought!

Kalyn: Thanks, Kalyn!

Lovely Bicycle: Thanks for reading! Hope you make the trip soon!

melch: Bet you're better than you think!

grundoon: I have some paprika in there, but I think you're right--sumac is the missing link. I hope to remake the soup sometime this week and test our theory. Thanks for the help!

I haven't actually had cafe algier's soup, but I have recently discovered that a certain type of sour in mid-eastern cooking comes from lemon-salt aka citric acid.

I was totally coming here to suggest sumac, but others beat me to the punch! Hope it works...

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